When Tammy and Jaret VanSickle went looking for a business to own, they found themselves buying one of the most prominent ones in town.
The VanSickles are the new owners of the Roxy Theatre, having purchased the classic movie theatre from Carl Rankin at the end of February.
Two months later, they’ve been getting a crash-course in the movie industry, learning the ins and outs of running the place where they once dated.
So, why buy the Roxy?
“Other than it’s magnificent?” replied Tammy. “It really is. We have checked out other small town theatres and have not found anything that compares to this one.”
I sat with Tammy and Jaret in the front row of the theatre, with its rows of burgundy seats and seemingly exclusive boxes behind us. It has the feel of an old-time movie theatre, with a little less leg room, but with modern technology capable of showing the latest high-definition and three-dimensional films.
Tammy and Jaret are both long-time Revelstokians; Tammy was raised here and Jaret moved here in 1980. They met in high school and recalled going to movies like Top Gun, St. Elmo’s Fire and the Breakfast Club.
“There’s memories you shouldn’t print,” laughed Tammy. “Like sneaking in beer.”
Since buying the theatre on Feb. 27, they’ve been learning there’s a lot more to it than selling tickets and popcorn. The past few months have been spent learning how movies are booked, which turns out to be more complicated than imagined.
“When you’re working with these film companies they tell you if they’ll share the screen with another movie,” said Tammy. “Some will, but some wont. There’s a lot of variables — how long the movie’s been released for, how old or new it is, and what company you’re working with.”
Some of those rules – like the fact some film companies demand exclusive access to a screen for seven days – are putting a bit of a crimp into plans. Still, the VanSickles have ambitions, like having weekend matinees and doing two shows a night during the summer. They can still do that, but they won’t always be able to show different movies, a result of demanding distribution companies. That makes it hard to bring in smaller movies for one or two nights.
“Carl’s taught us a lot. He’s a book of knowledge when it comes to the film industry,” said Jaret. “We still rely on Carl for a lot of things. He’s there for us.”
They’re discovering the fickleness of movie-goers – some weeks are hits, others are slow – and they hope to have a better feel of the community’s within a year. They take requests, as long as they think it will sell tickets.”We’re really trying to listen. Everywhere we go we get tons of suggestions. The pressure is on,” said Tammy.
Other goals they have are bringing in more film festivals, hosting local fundraisers and even holding weddings. “I can honestly say I don’t think Jaret and I know what the possibilities are,” said Tammy.
The Van Sickles praised the community for its support. “Everywhere we go on the street it is nothing but positive, and that’s why we live here,” said Tammy.